State of Tennessee Press Release; May 4, 2010:
Public Health Officials Urge Residents to Avoid Flood Water Whenever
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – When floods occur, affected residents run the risk of contracting waterborne illnesses caused by bacteria, viruses, chemicals or toxins found in the water. People can be exposed by ingesting, breathing in, or simply contacting contaminated water.
Additionally, walking, wading or even playing in flood waters might pose a potential hazard of drowning. Avoiding flood waters whenever possible is the best strategy to prevent illness and injury.
Waterborne illnesses and flood related injuries pose a serious risk to residents affected by this natural disaster, said State Health Commissioner Susan R. Cooper, MSN, RN. Parents should take extra precaution by keeping children and teens out of potentially contaminated flood waters. While it might not be obvious, currents can be strong and pose an immediate potential for drowning. Protect your loved ones and keep them safe by staying away from flood water.
Overtaxed and flooded septic and municipal wastewater systems will occasionally contaminate flood waters, increasing the risk of disease transmission. When there is risk of drinking water contamination, a boil water advisory will issued to help protect the health of a community and should be taken very seriously. These advisories tell residents how to boil or disinfect their tap water for use. For more instructions regarding drinking water advisories, visit the Web at http://www.epa.gov/safewater/faq/emerg.html. To see a list of water systems that have issued boil notices, see the Web at http://www.tennessee.gov/environment/flood/.
Fast moving water and even shallow, standing water can pose dangers. Regardless of your ability to swim, as little as a few inches of water can cause drowning. Also, flood-related injuries or wounds can occur from contact with sharp objects such as glass or metal fragments, leading to infection that may require medical attention.
It is important to remember that during a disaster situation, personal hygiene and sanitation are critical to help prevent the spread of disease. If you must be in contact with flood water, take necessary precautions and wash thoroughly with soap and clean water afterward. Make sure to keep hands clean, which helps prevent the spread of germs. Always wash your hands with soap and clean water. Use water from an approved source or that has been boiled or disinfected. If water is not available, alcohol-based hand sanitizers can be used. People should wash their hands:
· before and after preparing and eating food.
· after using the toilet.
· after changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used
· before and after tending to someone who is sick.
· after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing.
· after handling an animal, animal waste or garbage.
· before and after treating a cut or wound.
If running water is not available, a temporary hand-washing station can be created using a large water spigot jug that contains water from an approved source. If being used indoors, use a catch basin to catch the water. Also have soap, paper towels and a trash can available.
For a complete list of natural disasters and how to prepare and respond to them, please visit CDC’s Web site at http://www.bt.cdc.gov/DISASTERS/.